Markus Krah had already established a noteworthy career as a journalist before arriving at The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
In fact, it was his experience covering German politics for such news organizations as AFP (the French wire service), Reuters, and The Jerusalem Report, coupled with his internship at the Jewish Daily Forward while in college at American University that made Markus want to continue his education. "I wanted something that was more meaningful than what I was doing," he says, "and I wanted to explore religion and the world of ideas more deeply. I felt a PhD would be the best way to get into that world."
Like any good journalist, Markus researched his options and contacted people familiar with American Judaism before he began his application process. As he describes, "I spoke with Dr. Alan Mittleman, and he suggested that JTS would be an interesting place to study. I was impressed by both the academic standards and the supportive, vibrant community."
Now a PhD candidate concentrating in Modern Jewish Studies, Markus says, "The Graduate School has far exceeded my expectations. My experience here has provided a level of interaction with texts and materials that I never anticipated." From Bible classes with Rabbi Robert Harris and Dr. Benjamin Sommer to courses on modern Jewish history with Dr. Jack Wertheimer, Markus approaches each day with a renewed sense of vigor and passion for learning.
Equally important is the welcome Markus received from the JTS community. "In theory I should have difficulty fitting in; English is not my native language, I am not Jewish, and I am fifteen years older than most students. But I have found many new friends, and it is invigorating," he says. Markus has also furthered friendships with many of his fellow students while serving as co-president of The Graduate School Student Organization.
In addition, Markus participates in the Graduate Student Forum, which he describes as an intellectual round table. "We set a topic and have two students each present a scholarly article on these issues and then get a discussion going. Topics have ranged from universalism versus particularism, to Jews and violence, both in antiquity and turn-of-the century Russia," he says animatedly.
When he isn't speaking with his wife back in Germany, or planning their next visit, Markus is mining the deep resources of Jewish life here in New York City. "I attend services at a variety of congregations to get a sense how different places work, and take trips to The Jewish Museum as well," he says.
With several years left at The Graduate School, Marcus has ample time to continue taking advantage of the opportunities at JTS and immersing himself in the cultural diversity of his adopted city. As Markus says, "I am having the time of my life here—it is a gift and a blessing that I get to be a part of this community."